Is the nMP worth it if you DON'T work in video/animation?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by johngwheeler, Dec 24, 2013.

  1. johngwheeler macrumors 6502

    Dec 30, 2010
    I come from a land down-under...
    The nMP seems to have impressive performance with FCP, but so far we haven't seen much written about its performance in other fields, in particular software development.

    I've been trying to compare it to other desktops, workstations & servers for running Java application servers, databases, assorted VMs and Java-based development environments, but haven't arrived at a conclusion as to whether the nMP is a good fit.

    I have almost no interest in GPUs, other than the capability of running at least two large monitors - I doubt we will see serious use of GPGPUs in Java apps for many years.

    What I do like about the nMP is the possibility of getting a serious multi-core CPU in such a small package - I travel a lot, so a reasonably portable solution would be a big plus. Yes, there are quad-core "workstation" laptops that will take up to 32GB RAM, but I doubt they would be as fast as the nMP.

    Quite a lot of people have commented that the nMP's price compares favourably with other workstations from Dell, HP, Lenovo etc. My question is whether I could get a similarly spec'd 6 or 8 core workstation, in a reasonably small form factor, for a similar price. Of course, I wouldn't be able to run OS X on these (legally), and would have to live in the Windows or Linux world, but if the price difference is significant, this might be acceptable.

    Are there any other non-graphical users out there who have the same question?


  2. Hemingway macrumors newbie

    Dec 21, 2013
    Video producer here. Right now? No. As more apps take advantage of the new hardware, absolutely.
  3. Derpage, Dec 24, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2013

    Derpage Suspended

    Mar 7, 2012
    Video: It's gonna be awesome! long as you are a FCP user
    Animation: You don't need this much computer to animate.
    Everybody else: ??? ??? A lot of people are saying IF YOU BUILD IT THE SOFTWARE WILL COME. But ask how well that worked out for companies like DEC (lol).
  4. AidenShaw macrumors P6


    Feb 8, 2003
    The Peninsula
    We buy a lot of these ThinkPad W530 Core i7 quad for $1600 (including monitor), and add 32 GiB of RAM for $340. (Starting to order the W540s with Haswell...)

    Half the weight of the new Mini Pro, and that includes the monitor. System supports 3 drives - standard 2.5" SATA port, mSATA hidden under the keyboard, and 12.7mm drive bay adapter (pop out the DVD, and insert up to 1 TB). Our "power config" is a 256 GB SSD for the system, a 512 GB mSATA SSD for data, and a 1 TB SSHD hybrid for the bay.

    If you want portable power - go with a mobile workstation....
  5. mrsavage1 macrumors regular

    Feb 1, 2010
    No unless you have apps that need more than 32 gb of ram like photoshop.
  6. propower macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2010
    For an Audio machine I say its expensive but still worth it!

    Starting with the BTO base model with Hex core one gets a great machine that runs very quiet under load for $3500. Right in line with where an oMP was - but much quieter. A nice starting place for a serious studio. Depending on what one is doing pro audio can use as many cores as you have.

    Sure we all need external storage solutions plus boxes for PCIe cards (if needed).
  7. johngwheeler thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 30, 2010
    I come from a land down-under...
    Yes, the Lenovo W530 looks good - quite a few of my colleagues have these. The main benefit is being able to get 32GB RAM into a 15" laptop, but the disk options are good. I wasn't aware you could fit an mSATA SSD in addition to the other 2 drives. It's actually *more* expandable than the nMP!

    The nMP would probably be a bit faster (faster workstation CPU with a much higher TDP to sustain turbo speeds for longer), but it's also likely to be almost twice as expensive. Of course, the 6,8 or 12 core nMP would be far better for multi-threaded apps than a 4-core laptop i7.

    I've tried pricing a 6 or 8 core workstations from the other major manufacturers, and the nMP doesn't compare too badly given the specs of the SSD and GPUs. The limiting factor is the single CPU and the almost certain need for external enclosures for disks and possibly PCIe cards.

    I don't see much point in the 4-core nMP for apps that don't use the GPUs. It only seems to be marginally better than the MacBook Pro, and about on a par with best CPU option on the iMac.

    It will be interesting to see whether the 6, 8 & 12 core models offer significant advantages for developers over other Mac models or non-Apple workstations.

  8. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
  9. Stingray454 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2009
    Let's use the classic car analogy! :)

    Questions for myself: I'm not a racecar driver. Should I get a Porsche or continue to use my old Volvo?

    - Do I really NEED a porsche? No.
    - Do I really WANT a porsche? Yes.
    - Is a porsche more expensive? Yes.
    - Does the porsche have all the latest options, luxury and comfort? Yes.
    - Is it blazingly fast? Yes.
    - Is it fast enough to make up for the extra cost in saved time? No.
    - Will I enjoy the ride more than my old car? Hell yes.

    In short - if you don't need it for workstuff, it's basically a luxury item. You will enjoy the hell out of it, but pay a premium price for doing so. Only you can decide if it's worth it!
  10. NOV macrumors 6502


    Mar 27, 2004
    The Netherlands
    You mean like optimal processor load over the 8 cores of my oMP that I have in Logic Pro? (ii's a bit sarcastic because that never happened).


    I know one thing: first wait for the reports if this machine is actually suited for audio. There are tons of people that have issues with their new iMacs (and usb audio interface).
  11. -hh macrumors 68030


    Jul 17, 2001
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    …and here I thought that you were referring to Adobe Photoshop 7 ... which shipped a full revision (and 1.5 years) after the PowerMac G4 'Mystic' brought back dual G4 CPUs (July 2000) without that support.

    Or maybe I was thinking of Photoshop 8 (CS) … or 9 (CS1) … or ...

    .. in the meantime, as late as 2007, CS3's "Save" command was not only single-threaded, but modal (forces the user to wait until the operation completes).

  12. spoonie1972 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 17, 2012
    for audio - i'm more interested to know if latency numbers over this TB2 interface are better than they are… now.

    they shouldn't be able to be better than PCIe with that TB traffic cop in the way. I guess we'll find out?

    Also - yes - logic needs better thread control. RE: Aux busses pinning a single core. (no idea if logic X fixed this) - and the ability to use more than 16 threads.
  13. propower macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2010
    In PCIe (and TB1) audio interfaces the PCIe/TB1 portion is near zero with the analog to analog Round trip latency being totally dominated by A/D, D/A conversion time and minimum useable buffer settings in software of choice. TB2 will not matter at all.

    Best in class IME - AVID HD Native - 96kHz/64 buffer = 1.7ms (though I measure 1.8ms). I know of no other useable - less latent Native system - going THROUGH the host software. RME has a faster A/D D/A converter but i have no experience using it at super low buffers with host software.
  14. calaverasgrande macrumors 65816


    Oct 18, 2010
    Brooklyn, New York.
    if you still need multiple drives and PCIe cards they have this.
    I might pick something like this up so I can keep some of my DSP cards online in case any old projects need to be brought up. Interested to see how well that works with the whole round trip through a TB based PCIe buss.
  15. MH01 Suspended


    Feb 11, 2008
    Yup, for most of us it will be a case of want and a luxury item. Just have to get a huge rear wing, I mean monitor to go with it.
  16. SnoFlo macrumors regular


    Feb 5, 2010
    There's Mac OS X stability to think about. For my work I switched from a Mac Pro 4.1 to a Dell Precision Mobile Workstation with Quadro card, 32GB RAM and 3 SSDs (with an option for a fourth in the DVD drive bay): great machine, but Dell's drivers can be flaky.

    The thing about OS X is that although software crashes occur (actually, programs crash more in OS X than in Windows 8.1 on my systems) OS X stability remains untouched. In Windows, although programs crash less often, driver incompatibility, or indeed, drivers that just got up on the wrong side of the bed on a particular day, will take down the system. There's also the weird bugs that crop up in Windows for no apparent reason and then just go away. Bizarre.

    The irony is that I tested Windows 7 for a full year on a Mac Pro before switching hardware: rock stable. So, from a stability standpoint, whether in Windows or OS X, buy Mac hardware. The most powerful Mac? The nMP. Sure you can't build your own and customize it like crazy like with a PC (which can be a lot of fun), but at least it won't bug-out on you when least expected.
  17. slifty macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2011
  18. echoout macrumors 6502a

    Aug 15, 2007
    Austin, Texas
    Flash? After Effects? ToonBoom? Maya? Dragon? Flame? Cinema? Photoshop?
  19. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    I'd add one more question:

    - If I drive into a bad surprise on the road, does it give me the best possible chance to escape? Hell yes.

    A really fast computer does that also -- think do-overs under a deadline.
  20. wildmac macrumors 65816

    Jun 13, 2003
    Assuming you want to stay with OSX, you have the choice of the nMP, or something with an i7 and an underpowered GPU, unless you want to build and support your own. So, take your pick....
  21. jav6454 macrumors P6


    Nov 14, 2007
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    Long story short... No, it doesn't make it worth.
  22. Derpage Suspended

    Mar 7, 2012
    Nope. Maybe. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.
  23. wildmac macrumors 65816

    Jun 13, 2003
    Wow, so Apple built this computer solely for FCPX, which is a totally worthless piece of software?

    No wonder no one is ordering it... o_O
  24. propower macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2010
    Full speed Hex core or more under load due to excellent heatsinking.

    No other 2013 Mac can compete with this. If one needs more than a quad (for any use) the nMP is "worth it" - and is the only mac in town - Pro Audio - Number Crunchers - multiple VM users and probably a bunch more real uses that aren't Video editing... The graphics cards... not for me but who knows :)
  25. Anim macrumors 6502a


    Dec 16, 2011
    Macclesfield, UK
    GPU processing is the future as proved within the rendering industry, GPU rendering being 20+ times faster than top end CPUs. As this machine has two high end GPU cards in it then software that can use the GPU will be updated to use it, if they want to stay competitive. imo.

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